CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: We are the largest and we remain the largest development partner in the Pacific and the Budget is going up to $1.3 Billion, which is a record amount and there has been no previous Australian government has directed as much Overseas Development Assistance to the Pacific as we are doing. We welcome the involvement of other partners in the Pacific, but in the end as I have said in the past, what is really important is that we do take into account the priorities of the different countries in the Pacific and in addition, that we also respond to their core needs but we do not impose heavy debt burdens. Development partners in our region, particularly in the Pacific, need to take into account the economic vulnerability in the region and particularly countries like in the Pacific where they have such small formal economies.

BRUCE HILL: Is there any danger of developing aid dependency in the Pacific?

CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I think what is very, very clear is that there is certainly as I have participated in quite a number of meetings in recent times and I think the Forum - Economic Ministers meeting in Palau was a very good example of where the Pacific is now, realising that it is very important that it looks to organise itself in such a way, and that is the basis of the Pacific resilience facility. So that when we do have the next cyclones and the next adverse weather conditions we are much better prepared to do that. So I think there is a growing recognition in the Pacific that we do need, we have special vulnerabilities here in the Pacific because we are amongst the most disaster prone countries in the world. But I sense that this is a, this is a region now where certainly my colleagues, my ministerial colleagues have a very good, a very good understanding of what their priorities are but they are also good understanding of the importance of having good debt sustainability, good budget management and we are seeing some very good examples of that happening in countries in the Pacific

BRUCE HILL: Is this aid going to be just straight forward aid or is some of it going to be helping to build up the private sector, so to build economic resilience in these countries so they can stand more on their own two feet?

CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: We have an important private sector component; we work with different partners and indeed, quite a number of the things that we do are actually delivered by the private sector, a combination of the private sector and Non-Government Organisations. We have been consistent in our advocating aid for trade and that has seen some very positive results and indeed, we are seeing growing awareness of assistance and the need for assistance that actually ultimately will translate into trade.


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